Obama makes case for punishing Syria, delay likely
By Matt Spetalnick and Khaled Yacoub Oweis ,ReutersWASHINGTON/AMMAN -- U.S. President Barack Obama told Americans a military strike against Syria is in their interests, although there were signs on Thursday that any action will be delayed at least several days while the case is laid out to U.S. and British lawmakers.
August 30, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
Senior Obama administration officials are expected to brief congressional leaders on Thursday, with lawmakers complaining they have not been properly consulted about plans to respond to what Washington says was the gassing of civilians.
The United Nations said chemical weapons inspectors investigating the attacks will leave Syria on Saturday and then report on their findings to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
In Britain — the closest U.S. ally and a key player in any air assault on Syria — parliament cut short its summer break for a debate on Thursday on Syria likely to reveal deep misgivings stemming from the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Britain said on Wednesday it would not act until it receives the findings of the U.N. inspectors, after which parliament will be given a chance for a decisive vote.
Increasing expectations of a delay ended a three-day sell off on world share markets on Thursday, but investors were still on edge over future turmoil in the Middle East.
Obama sought to win over a war-weary American public by saying intervention in Syria, where more than 100,000 people have been killed in two and a half years of civil war, would serve U.S. national security interests.
“If we are saying in a clear and decisive but very limited way, we send a shot across the bow saying, 'Stop doing this,' this can have a positive impact on our national security over the long term,” he told “PBS Newshour” in a televised interview.
While saying he had not yet made a decision on military action, Obama left little doubt the choice was not whether but when to punish Syria for the gas attacks, which killed hundreds of people in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus.
“We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out,” he said on Wednesday evening.
Syria denies blame for the gas attacks and says they were perpetrated by rebels. Washington and its allies say the denial is not credible.